FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Matemática

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Investigação Operacional [MATH-LVT-Lisboa-152] visitada em 19/02/2008

Classificação: Excellent

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
Size of Group: 28 PhD (34 in 2007) more than 20 PhD students, 1 Postdoc

The group has almost doubled in the past years – 19 PhD members in 2003 and 34 by the end of 2007. This group is certainly an active research group with considerable visibility. It was ranked excellent in the previous evaluation cycle, and this rating is preserved at this evaluation as well.

Strength:

This is the largest Operations Research group of Portugal. The 33 PhD members are having their academic appointments all over Portugal. The Operations Research Centre is almost a national network. Operations Research is a huge area, too big even for such a large centre. Therefore the centre has chosen to focus on “Combinatorial and Discrete Optimization”. This is an utmost important topic with significant applications in many industries. The “Network Design Optimization” and the “Mixed Integer Programming” focus areas are truly excellent. The centre has a significant international visibility. It has a proven track record of collaboration with leading research groups of the area, including MIT. The group’s goals for achieving greater international visibility and impact are ambitious, and to reach that they should capitalize more their excellent international connections and partners to ensure that their students get in touch with hot research topics that may be tangential to the core focus of the centre. Enabling and mentoring talented young researchers would further lift their stellar publication record in leading journals, such as "Operations Research", "Mathematical Programming" and “SIAM Journal on Optimization”. Regardless of this advice, the steady (about 1.5 refereed papers per year per member) publication record is respectable

The Operations Research Centre has respectable training activity in the masters and PhD level. The completed 26 MSc and 20 PhD theses represent an active training program. It is very positive that many of the master students gain their thesis by working on industry initiated projects and spend considerable time at the industrial partners. Industrial relevance of the centre’s research and training should be mentioned and applauded.
The international networking activity of the centre is up to its reputation. The members of the centre have organized, or taken part of the organization of significant number of international events: conferences and workshops. They fulfil several positions of international scientific organizations, e.g., coordinators of EURO working groups and members of four journal editorial boards. The centre’s international reputation is confirmed by several semi-plenary and plenary talk invitations at international conferences.

Weaknesses:

Seeking funding for postdocs and visitors is a clear weakness of the centre. The panel was surprised to learn that such a large reputed centre is neither aware of FCT’s long time existing postdoc program, nor of the recently introduced 5-years special postdoc program. All other centres actively seek funding in those programs and enormously benefit from the enabling international talent made available by those programs. The lack of knowledge or interest to seek such funding explains why the centre had only one postdoc in the evaluation period, much less than most active small research group had.

The centre seems to have a solid amount of funding through projects and networking. However, the lack of the flow of postdocs, the limited activity in exchanging PhD students with leading institutions and research groups call the attention of the possibility of inbreeding and as a consequence to possible decline of the group’s edge in the international competition. Other signs of losing focus are the presentation of neural computing, multi-criteria and stochastic optimization as new emerging areas. Obviously, those are important areas of operations research, but far from the emerging novel ones, and are also inconsistent with the highlighted “Combinatorial and Discrete Optimization” core.

Recommendations:

The center should actively seek funding for postdocs and longer term visitors, ensure that younger members spend longer periods of time at leading optimization groups to ensure continued presence at the cutting edge of research developments of combinatorial and discrete optimization.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Centro de Investigação Operacional [RG-MATH-LVT-Lisboa-152-1583]